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This morning Minority Whip Eric Cantor (the Mini-Me to Minority Leader Boehner’s Dr. Evil) was on Faux News spouting off about how American airport security is too lax. He is of course ignoring the fact that he and his party where in power when the TSA was created and the current rules were implemented, but, hey, any time you can bash on the President and those DFH’s in the Democratic Party why let a little thing like facts get in the way?

"Originally posted at Squarestate.net"

Rep. Cantor (Douche-Nozzle, VA) went on and on about how we should adopt the same type of security screening that the Israeli flag carrier El Al uses.  As with most policy Republicans propose this looks moderately reasonable on the surface. El-Al has had only one hijacking in its history, which was before the current system went into effect. It has never had any successful bombings, though it has found bombs on several occasions.

Now that sounds like the kind of security we want right? Well, like most Republican ideas that sound good on the surface it falls apart on closer inspection. To start with El Al is miniscule compared to even the smallest of regional carriers in the United States. They fly 40 flights a day compared to the 87,000 daily flights in the U.S.

Still, they have really good security, right? That is true, they have great security, but here is what it takes. Every single passenger has to arrive at least 3 hours before an El Al flight. Before you get there, they have divided the passengers up by last name. If you have an Arab last name, you will be guaranteed to have an intensive screening, including a body search. The Dog thinks this is a big part of why Rep. Cantor is pushing El Al security measures; it is a way to get the racial profiling. that the Conservatives are so in love with, implemented.

There is more, though. Even if you do not have an Arab name you will questioned at length by at least three different screeners. If they do not like your answers, you will be treated to the "high risk" screening like those with Arab names.

Baggage is intensively screened, if it comes from another air-line it is checked through security again. All baggage is put through a low-pressure chamber to simulate being on a plane to keep bombs set for flight from getting on planes.

Then there is on plane security. On every flight, five of the aisle seats are take up by armed undercover air marshals. Most of the cabin crew and flight crew are ex-military (this is more to do with the fact that military service is compulsory in Israel, but bet your bottom dollar Republicans would like to paramilitarize the airline industry).  

This may be what it takes for El Al to secure its fleet of 40 planes, but it is completely un unpractical for a nation that flies as much as we do. The U.S. air system is 2175 times the volume of flights of El Al. There is exactly zero chance of scaling up what works for a very small air line to a system that big.

But that is not Minority Whip Cantors concern. He is on Faux News to stoke the fears of their low information viewers and provide a simple solution to a complex problem, even though that never actually works in the real world. Rep. Cantor is not going to talk about the cost or the hassle or frankly the Constitutional issues behind a government agency like the TSA racially profiling Arab Americans. No, that is not his purpose at all.

Sadly all of this misses the real solution to our air line security needs, intelligence, human intelligence gathered and shared across agencies. This is where the billions and billions of dollars that an El Al type security plan would cost should be spent. Yes, we screwed up on with Northwest Flight 253, but that does not mean we should be looking to put draconian measures in place on the massive U.S. air system.

It is far better to prevent those who would bomb planes from ever getting to the airport, instead of trying to catch them at the very last chance, when they are about to board a plane. The group in England who were going to try to use liquid bombs to bring down airliners never got close to the airport. They were discovered and stopped, inside the boundaries of the law, by good old-fashioned intelligence and police work. This is where we need to put our focus, not sound bite policies of the Republicans.

The floor is yours.

Originally posted to Something the Dog Said on Fri Jan 08, 2010 at 07:42 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips? Flames? (34+ / 0-)

    A sane opposition party?

    Getting Democrats together and keeping them that way is like herding cats that are high on meth, through L.A., during an earthquake, in the rain -6.25, -6.10

    by Something the Dog Said on Fri Jan 08, 2010 at 07:40:24 AM PST

  •  If you want to shut him up (10+ / 0-)

    just ask him how he would pay for it.

    "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts." Daniel Patrick Moynihan

    by atlliberal on Fri Jan 08, 2010 at 07:49:20 AM PST

  •  Hey Dog, how's the Job situation? (5+ / 0-)

    did you find anything good yet?

    "The first reaction of a progressive should be not to look at who is the target of hate, but to reject the hate first." -RandomActsOfReason

    by XNeeOhCon on Fri Jan 08, 2010 at 07:53:37 AM PST

  •  I think we really need to spread the meme (2+ / 0-)

    that if a solution sounds easy and intuitive, it's probably bad. I know it's a bit of a reverse Occam's razor, but how healthy is it for our political discourse when politicians - both liberal and conservative - offer these phony ideas that make the real solutions - often complex by necessity - look cumbersome and 'not common sense.'

    If people want to be engaged in national or even state politics, the first thing they need to understand is that the best solutions are robust, and robust solutions can't be boiled down to sound bytes.

    This article is about the twelfth President of the United States. For the Power Rangers character, see Zack Taylor.

    by LousyDeemo on Fri Jan 08, 2010 at 07:58:36 AM PST

    •  I'm with you. I have said for years (4+ / 0-)

      there are no simple solutions to complex problems. It seems to be something in our make up that wants to have a sound bite answer to things.

      Getting Democrats together and keeping them that way is like herding cats that are high on meth, through L.A., during an earthquake, in the rain -6.25, -6.10

      by Something the Dog Said on Fri Jan 08, 2010 at 08:00:27 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  something in our make up? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Something the Dog Said

        or is it more of the news director saying "this is how much time we can give politics before we move on to 30 minutes of Tiger Woods."

        Probably a bit of each, with the content supplies reacting to what people want, and then the audience becomes more familiar with the material and even more enthralled by it. I saw it happen a lot around here with everyone getting addicted to the health care debate and learning more and more about the intricacies of policy creation.

        This article is about the twelfth President of the United States. For the Power Rangers character, see Zack Taylor.

        by LousyDeemo on Fri Jan 08, 2010 at 08:05:51 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  No, people on all sides of any issue (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          LousyDeemo

          make simple sounding answers to complex problems. Look at the calls around the internet for a 3rd party instead of fix the Democratic party. It is a good sound bite, leave the Dems, it will all be better in a new party but it completely ignores the massive hurdles of setting up a new party.

          Getting Democrats together and keeping them that way is like herding cats that are high on meth, through L.A., during an earthquake, in the rain -6.25, -6.10

          by Something the Dog Said on Fri Jan 08, 2010 at 08:08:32 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I guess what I meant to say (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Something the Dog Said

            is that it would be nice if people, even if they didn't commit the time to understand the issues, would at least understand that those sound bytes are worthless.

            But it will be a tough sell so long as proponents of the "one sentence solution" continue to let the less politically inclined dip their toes in the pool and then them they are Olympic swimmers.

            This article is about the twelfth President of the United States. For the Power Rangers character, see Zack Taylor.

            by LousyDeemo on Fri Jan 08, 2010 at 08:24:48 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  For GOP, the racism is the goal. (4+ / 0-)

    Of course, it's easy for an actual terrorist to defeat any profiling system that concentrates on muslims or names.  We just had a terror suspect arrested in Illinois who looked like Damian Lewis.  

    No, the point is to punish innocent, but muslim and arab, people.  It's to make them pay a price for their religion and their descent.  

    There's no security upside but there's plenty of discrimination against people the GOP wants to discriminate against.

    That's why the El Al screenings, in reality, would be a step up: it suspects EVERYBODY.  Maybe the time has come for each and every passenger to be patted down.  At least if we all are forced to do it, then we know it's not just for the sake of hurting people.

    Subsidies without cost controls, regulatory reform means that citizens get a little more awful insurance at a huge cost to taxpayers. Like Part D but worse.

    by Inland on Fri Jan 08, 2010 at 07:58:42 AM PST

  •  Ain't gonna happen. (9+ / 0-)

    El Al serves one major airport, Tel Aviv. There are three airports larger than that (JFK, LGA, EWR) within thirty miles of where I'm writing this.

    As you correctly point out, our traffic volume is larger than that of Israel by degrees of magnitude. Obviously, our system isn't fail safe, but we can't do what Israel does, which is straightforward ethnic profiling.

    An open society like ours is never completely safe from determined attackers. That's the price we need to pay, something people like Cantor who yelp about "freedom" from the rafters really should appreciate more.

    It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both.

    by MBNYC on Fri Jan 08, 2010 at 08:00:01 AM PST

    •  Great point on secruity and freedom! eom (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MBNYC, LousyDeemo

      Getting Democrats together and keeping them that way is like herding cats that are high on meth, through L.A., during an earthquake, in the rain -6.25, -6.10

      by Something the Dog Said on Fri Jan 08, 2010 at 08:01:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Just to point out how small TLV is, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cedwyn, MBNYC, Something the Dog Said

      St. Louis-Lambert International, my home airport, had 14 million passengers go through it in 2008 compared to 11 million at TLV.

      Here's where STL and TLV differ:
      STL is not a major hub for any carrier (we're a very small AA hub).
      Save for a couple daily regional jet flights to/from Toronto, and a few times weekly charter vacation flights to the Caribbean and Mexico, we have no international service. There's no nonstop service to Asia or Europe or anywhere south of the Caribbean.
      STL mostly gets regional jets and 737s, whereas TLV mostly gets A330s, A340s, 747s, 767s, and 777s, which are much larger, widebody jets with much higher passenger and cargo capacity.
      St. Louis Metro Area population: 2.8 million. Tel Aviv Metro Area population: 3.1 million

      Despite all this, STL is a busier airport than TLV. That just shows how small of an airport TLV is in terms of passengers, and that's Israel's only major airport.

      Economics: The science of explaining tomorrow why the predictions you made yesterday didn't come true today

      by yg17 on Fri Jan 08, 2010 at 08:10:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, thing is (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Something the Dog Said

        domestic air travel is essential in America and of little use in Israel, because of the relative sizes of the countries. The 9/11 hijackings were all domestic flights, transcontinental, and it defies simple common sense that we could impose that kind of regime on every single flight made within this country.

        The goal of terrorism is to strike fear into its targets. Unsurprisingly, in this instance, the goals of Al Qaeda and the republican party are perfectly aligned - to scare the American people shitless.

        We are better than that.

        It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both.

        by MBNYC on Fri Jan 08, 2010 at 08:27:59 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Flights to Toronto and Montreal (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Wisewood

        count as domestic flights because you go through customs and immigration on the ground while still in Canada. See a comment below.

  •  Damn good idea. I am in favor... (2+ / 0-)

    of expanding rail service in this country. Implementing this kind of security for air travel is probably a sure fire way of doing that through market forces. It also might bring back a more robust sea travel industry.

    geez, talk about easy ways to kill off air travel!  I thought republicans were pro-business!

    A learning experience is one of those things that says, 'You know that thing you just did? Don't do that.' Douglas Adams

    by dougymi on Fri Jan 08, 2010 at 08:08:34 AM PST

  •  Let us not aspire to be like Israel! (0+ / 0-)

    Israel may find that racial profiling works well in preventing attacks by airline passengers.   However, Israeli racism has gotten them 60 years of war.   They are the regional super power but they are not secure.
     
    We are not like Israel; we are the opposite of Israel.   We (most of us) believe in equal rights.   That makes our social problems solvable.   Israel sees the solution to their social problem as getting rid of their unwanted minority.   As such, Israel is at war with themselves!

    We are not like Israel; thank God!

  •  We should do things just as we do now, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dougymi, Something the Dog Said

    but require that all passengers say "God bless Israel" as they go through security. Al Qaeda won't be able to get around that one.

    I'm in the pro-Obama wing of the Democratic Party.

    by doc2 on Fri Jan 08, 2010 at 08:14:19 AM PST

  •  As has been pointed out... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BachFan, Something the Dog Said

    ...by others, one cannot easily import Israeli security measures into the U.S., if only because of size.

    We could improve our screening of passengers.

    Even without racial profiling, you can have screeners ask more intelligent questions and be on the look for potentially suspicious behavior.  When I traveled out of Ben-Gurion aiport, the screener was able to ask me a succession of rapid fire questions that, if I was trying to BS, would have flubbed me.  She was able to pick up on one thing I was saying and then follow up to be sure that it wasn't a cover story.

    At least that's what it felt like.  I am guessing that they probably had other techniques that I didn't pick up.

    There are some people that will have a Pavlonian response to oppose anything El Al does, because it's Israeli.  Nevertheless, there is a good track record there.  Even if we can't replicate their exact techniques there are things we can learn.

    If missiles were falling where my two daughters sleep, I would do everything in order to stop that. -- President Barack Obama

    by JPhurst on Fri Jan 08, 2010 at 08:20:56 AM PST

    •  Good point. I did not intend this to be a (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LousyDeemo

      Israel bashing diary. El Al does what it does in response to its situation. But just because it was successful does not mean the same thing can be replicated here.

      Getting Democrats together and keeping them that way is like herding cats that are high on meth, through L.A., during an earthquake, in the rain -6.25, -6.10

      by Something the Dog Said on Fri Jan 08, 2010 at 08:23:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  We would need 20k more TSA's to do the El Al Way (3+ / 0-)

    Their intensive interviews are the key, not technology. We simply do not have the staff, and airports do not have the infrastructure for this approach. Is Cantor willing to pony up anohter $5 billion to do it? Of course not.

    •  Actually, I like the idea of intensive interviews (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BachFan, Something the Dog Said

      a lot better than I like the idea of those body scanners.  I consider the body scanners to be an outrageous violation of privacy (I could get REALLY detailed here but for reasons of delicacy, I will refrain), and besides--who needs additional radiation?  We get quite enough from mammograms, dental X-rays, and CAT scans.  

      Bomb-sniffing dogs would have sniffed out that Nigerian guy's underwear.  A dog's sense of smell is about 1,000 times keener than ours--correct?  

      Yes, I'm het, but I'm NOT a Mad Hetter!

      by Diana in NoVa on Fri Jan 08, 2010 at 08:37:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, the scaners are microwave, not X-ray (0+ / 0-)

        so you would not be picking up many more rads than a walking around. But you are right there is a real invasion of privacy that will spill out into everyday life if we go down that route.

        Plus where does it end? Ann Coulter, that venomous hag, was saying since you can't see into body cavities or under foreskin with these scanners they were not enough.

        Getting Democrats together and keeping them that way is like herding cats that are high on meth, through L.A., during an earthquake, in the rain -6.25, -6.10

        by Something the Dog Said on Fri Jan 08, 2010 at 08:39:37 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  One other thing.... (3+ / 0-)

    ...it's not just "El Al."  It's the entire security system for Ben-Gurion.  Plenty of other carriers fly in and out of there.  And you are still subjected to the same screening, scrutiny.

    Admitedly, it is not the same scale as aviation in the U.S.  But it's not just one carrier's flights that we are talking about.

    If missiles were falling where my two daughters sleep, I would do everything in order to stop that. -- President Barack Obama

    by JPhurst on Fri Jan 08, 2010 at 08:22:58 AM PST

  •  Well, it (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BachFan, Something the Dog Said

    would create jobs / snark.

    I've gone through Ben Gurion many times.  There is no way a country with the flight traffic of the US could do this - heck, there's no way O'Hare could do this.  

    "Never trust a rich man when he offers you a truce."

    by KibbutzAmiad on Fri Jan 08, 2010 at 08:36:18 AM PST

  •  Not Another Circumcision Diary nt (0+ / 0-)
  •  The El Al system can work (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DoGooderLawyer

    for international flights. Yes, you have to arrive three hours prior to a flight -- but you have to arrive very early for most international flights to anywhere. Implementing it for US domestic flights would destroy the US air transport system.

    Something else that would help would be to adopt the system currently in place in Toronto and Montreal: Travelers to the US must go through customs and immigration on the ground in Canada. After that point the flight becomes a US domestic flight, and anyone who is not going to be let into the US is stuck in Canada. This could reasonably done at least for the major European, Asian, and Latin American airports with a lot of flights to the US.

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